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Also Known As



Pleurisy is a painful inflammation of the membrane that lines the inside of the horse's chest cavity and covers the lungs. The condition results in fluid accumulation and affects the horse's breathing. It is often a complication of equine influenza, pneumonia, guttural pouch infection, or lung abscess.


  • Coughing
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Initially a grunting sound with each breath changing to diminished or absent breath sounds as condition worsens


Pleurisy is a lung infection that affects the membrane lining the chest cavity and covering the lungs. It is often a complication of other diseases, such as equine influenza, pneumonia, or guttural pouch infection. Rarer causes include a pulmonary embolism, cancer, or arthritis.


Preventing pleurisy includes care to prevent both bacterial and viral infections that might lead to complications affecting the lungs, chest cavity, guttural pouch, and other parts of the horse's anatomy. Since pleurisy is usually a complication of other diseases, prompt diagnosis and treatment of those diseases should prevent most cases of pleurisy.


Treatment of pleurisy is usually accomplished by the administration of long-term antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian based on culture and sensitivity reports. An antibiotic effective against anaerobic bacteria is often recommended.

If pleural effusion has developed, thoracentesis may be necessary. This is accomplished by inserting a catheter into the pleural space and draining the accumulated liquid, allowing the horse to breathe more comfortably.

Good nutrition and stall rest in a well-ventilated setting until the horse has fully recuperated will allow a return to normal routines when the horse is fully recovered.

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EquiMed Staff

EquiMed staff writers team up to provide articles that require periodic updates based on evolving methods of equine healthcare. Compendia articles, core healthcare topics and more are written and updated as a group effort. Our review process includes an important veterinarian review, helping to assure the content is consistent with the latest understanding from a medical professional.